[mythtv-users] MythTV vs. Windows Media Center

Reynolds, Brian Brian.Reynolds at fiserv.com
Thu Feb 10 18:39:35 UTC 2011

First off, I have to say that this is the most prolific group of people
I've ever seen on a list like this.

You guys have given me more to think about.  I may have been dreaming
that I read that the BluRay movies can be played on the extenders.  I'll
check that out.

I'm pretty sure I read that Media Center will allow you to search/sort,
but I don't remember any mention of being able to schedule a recording
from the search window.  If it doesn't, that would be a really dumb

All the mentions of limitations in Tivo really don't apply here.  I can
build my Windows box to be as powerful as I want.  Also, I'm more
familiar with Windows than I am with Linux/UNIX, but I could learn more
about Linux if need be.  Plus, there are PLENTY of hacks available for
Windows.  Professionally, my job involves systems integration and
automation, and I've never had a problem accomplishing what I want to do
in Windows.  We have several UNIX and Linux systems here, and I can get
by when I need to script something, but I'm not a system admin on the
UNIX systems.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Windows.  The restrictions you
guys are talking about with the DRM schemes really doesn't bother me too
much.  If I don't want to pay for the content, I can always search the
internet and find it somewhere else.  However, every time I've tried to
do so, it ended up taking so much time that I didn't feel like it was
worth it.

Now, I have several choices here....

1)I can pay the cable company for their whole-house DVR system, which
will cost me an extra $62/month for five rooms with four tuners.  Their
system has some weird limitations, but also has some advantages in that
each room will also have its own dedicated tuner (that can't
pause/rewind/record) and I get full access to VOD.  However, I have to
live with their clunky interface and I don't get all the other online

2)I can go with MythTV and use the HD HomeRun Prime to capture the
analog HD output of FOUR cable boxes.  However, this costs an extra
$32/month to rent those cable boxes, and I'm not too sure the
remote-control interface will work well and integrate seamlessly into
Myth.  Maybe you guys can help me with that?

3) I can go with Windows media center and some extenders.  There is some
doubt about being able to play copy-protected content on the extenders
and I'll research that more.  However, I'm pretty sure I read an article
on engadget.com where they tested the InfiniTV card, and they said that
it worked on the extenders with copy-once content.  The only content I
know of on my cable box that is copy-never are the VOD content (these
can't be recorded, even on the cable company's DVR).  There is also
doubt about being able to play BluRay on the extenders, but that's not a
deal breaker for me... it would just be icing on the cake if I could do

If I decide to go with Windows and I really, really miss the VOD... I
could buy one of those boxes that takes the analog output of a cable box
to get the VOD content (that's the HDHR box, right?).  However, each
cable box is an extra $8.00 a month, and if I wanted to do this whole
project exclusively with MythTV, I would need four cable boxes
($32/month) plus four of those HDHR boxes ($800).  With windows, I can
do it with a single card ($400) and a single cableCARD ($3/month), minus
the VOD of course.

My main concern with using one of those HDHR boxes to capture the HD
(1080i) output of the cable box is the setup to control the cable box.
It seems like a kludge that wouldn't work well, even if I can use
FireWire to control the cable box.  Do any of you have experience with
this control connection?  How does the control function work on one of
your front end's?  Is it easy for the end-user (my kids) to change
channels, rewind/pause/fast-forward, control the VOD menus on the cable
box, etc. using an IR remote control?  Do any of you have FOUR cable
boxes connected this way?

One of the main things that gives me pause is the fact that the system
to run Media Center will cost me $1800 to build, including tuner cards,
etc.  That price includes components that are all pretty high quality
and may give me more horse power than I really need.  I'd rather have
more HP than needed than less, just to be safe.  Also, I want this box
to be around for a while, so I don't want to buy cheap stuff.  Now, I
assume that if I wanted a MythTV backend/frontend combo that handles the
same number of tuners and remote frontends that I would need a box that
is just about the same price.

If the Windows Media Center route will accomplish my goal, then $1800
plus $3.00/month will pay for itself in less than 3 years ($59/month
savings X 36 months = $2124) vs. the cable company's whole-house DVR
solution @ $62/month.

If the Myth route has similar hardware costs ($1800), then it would pay
for itself in five years.  $32/month for four cable boxes vs. the
whole-house DVR solution @ $62/month nets a $30/month savings ($30 X 60
months = $1800).

If any of you live in the east-central-Florida area and wouldn't mind
giving me a grand tour of your setup, I would really appreciate seeing
the whole thing in action.  Especially if you're doing something
remotely close to what I'm trying to accomplish (HD HomeRun Prime
connected to and controlling multiple cable boxes, etc).  I'd really
hate to buy all that hardware and then find out that it really won't do
what I want.

Thanks in advance for all your advice.

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